Timely Bye Week

If there was ever justification for an unprecedented TWO bye weeks in one 11-game season, Idaho's sick bay this season would be one (followed closely by the fact that Idaho last year played 12 games without a single bye). The Vandals take this weekend off, fresh on the heels of a road victory at New Mexico State last Saturday, and prepare to battle Louisiana Tech in the Dome on Saturday, November 12th.

For the Vandal football team this season, this must feel somewhat luxurious. TWO bye weeks in a four week span, plus this one follows a road W in Las Cruces.

Luxurious, and refreshing, indeed.

As the team prepares for the final 3-game stretch (starting with Louisiana Tech November 12th in The Dome, followed by road games at Boise State and San Jose State to close out the season), we take a quick look back at Idaho's accomplishments so far in this inaugural season in the Western Athletic Conference.

The following SEASON HIGHLIGHTS were originally published on the University of Idaho Official Athletic Site

* Junior kicker Mike Barrow (Ventura, Calif.) was awarded the Western Athletic Conference/Xbox Live Special Teams Player of the Week award after kicking three field goals (47, 31 and 19 yards) and four PATs in the Vandals' double overtime victory at New Mexico State last Saturday. He also averaged 43.3 yards on seven punts with a long of 54 and two being downed inside the 20. [Barrow is the third Vandal to earn the award this season, joining senior linebacker Mike Anderson and quarterback Steve Wichman as Player of the Week award recipients this season]

* Also nominated for this week's award was junior receiver D.J. Smith (Houston, Texas), who caught 11 passes for a school record 269 yards. In addition to catching the 20-yard TD pass that put the Vandals in position to go for two on the point-after, he also caught the conversion pass for the 38-37 victory. Senior linebacker Cole Snyder (Kamiah, Idaho) was the defensive nominee from Idaho after accumulating 17 tackles (seven solo and 10 assists). He also was credited with three tackles-for-loss – two of which were sacks.

* Daniel Smith's 269 receiving yards broke the record of 257 set by Jerry Hendren against Idaho State on Sept. 27, 1969. Smith's 11 receptions ties for 14th on the single-game list. His 269 yards are tops in the NCAA this fall.

* Junior quarterback Steve Wichman's (Tracy, Calif.) 489 passing yards is fourth on the UI all-time single game list. The record of 637 was set by Brian Lindgren in 2001 at Middle Tennessee. Ryan Fien is second with 542 in 1996 at Wyoming, and Ken Hobart is third with 537 in 1983 against Southern Colorado. It also was fifth-best in the NCAA this season.

* Snyder is ranked seventh in the NCAA in total tackles and remains Number 1 in solo stops.

* Smith took over the receiving yards-per-game lead with his mega-game at NMSU. Those 269 yards bolstered his per-game average to 106.9 to out-distance Nevada's Devone Bess' 95.9.

* Barrow officially would be leading the league in punt average – but he's five kicks short of the NCAA minimum's after taking over four weeks ago for T.J. Conley, who broke his leg. Barrow's average of 44.2 on 24 kicks bests the average of 42 for Boise State's Kyle Stringer. His 77-yarder against Fresno State is the league's top mark this fall.

* Barrow's longest field goals this season – 50, 47 and 46 – are the top marks in the conference. Two others also have kicked 46 yarders.

In addition, Idaho has again seen a large number of freshmen and sophomores step up to the challenge of rebuilding Idaho's football program:

* Redshirt freshman Adam Korby has started every game at center this year, the only lineman to start every game this year.

* Redshirt freshman Kristopher Anderson had started every game this year at guard until the Fresno State game, in which he suffered an injury that kept him out of the New Mexico State game. He could be back this week against La Tech.

* True freshman Eddie Williams has seen extensive playing time this season at H-Back (backing up junior Keith Greer), catching the first touchdown pass of his career against Washington State in the season opener.

* Gray shirt freshman wide receiver Tracy Ford has played extensively this season, and is currently boasting 22 receptions (#2 on the team) for 175 yards (#4 on the team) with a long of 33 yards and averaging 21.9 yards per catch.

* Redshirt freshman Rick Harrison has been Idaho's top tightend all season when Greer lines up in the backfield. Harrison caught his first career TD at UNLV in the second game of the season.

* True freshman Jason Brown is Idaho's No. 2 rusher on the depth chart, has played in 8 games, is averaging 2.9 yards per carry and has one TD on the year.

* True freshman speedster Wesley Williams has started at punt returner (13 returns with a long of 30 yards), kick returner (6 returns with a long of 35 yars), and now lines up at wide receiver for the Vandals (3 catches with 1 TD and a long of 31 yards).

* Sophomore Josh Bousman is Idaho's #2 tackler on the team with 57 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks on the year.

* Sophomore safety D.J. Dykes has 51 tackles on the year (#3), 3 interceptions, and 4 pass breakups.

* Sophomore defensive end Benjamin Alexander leads the defensive line with 36 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 1 interception.

Not a bad mid-season mark, and something that should propel the team for a strong finish in the weeks ahead.

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